Northwest College in Powell hosted the first Wyoming Agriculture Diversification Summit this week. The two-day conference invited agriculture business leaders from around the country to present innovative ideas to state producers and business sponsors.
David Stover, the owner of a consulting firm on innovation and strategy, said the key to innovation is to understand what assets and competencies already exist. He said two assets stand out in Wyoming, including access to water.
“That ample supply of water and also the ability to isolate growing crops so they don't cross-pollinate,” said Stover. “You can keep purity for specialty grains and stuff like that. Combining that ample water and that isolation over time can create some great opportunities for Wyoming agriculture.”
The summit also showcased how innovation is already happening in the state. Thomas Foulke, a research scientist at the University of Wyoming, presented on the university’s effort. Foulke said the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics is initiating an experiment of growing spelt, a type of grain related to wheat, and selling it to consumers.
“These are Wyoming products. Starting very small, on a limited budget seeing how things work this first year,” said Foulke. “Getting some University of Wyoming support to begin with but our goal eventually is to spin this off to be private.”
Essentially, he said the university is taking on the risk for the producers. The diversification conference hopes to introduce more innovative ways to bring jobs and income to the agriculture sector in the state.